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Do you say “I do” to a partner’s bankruptcy?

Many couples know that marriage means sharing your life. You have to share a house, family, time and even money. It makes sense that you also share your spouse’s debt – no matter how the debt is accrued.

It provokes the question that if your spouse files for bankruptcy to addressed their debt, do you (as their spouse) also have to file bankruptcy? Or how does their filing affect your financial status?

Don’t buy into the myths.

Most people expect that filing for bankruptcy is a joint effort for most couples. However, individuals can file for bankruptcy without the participation of their partners. It depends on what the debt is and how the couple wants to address their finances.

For example, couples may work together in a bankruptcy claim if they evaluate their finances and find that to be the best option. However, you may also find details surrounding each individual debt that mean you should file as an individual instead. Some examples of individual debt are:

  • Student loans
  • Credit card debt
  • Car loans
  • Loans related to mortgages or home equity

The answer differs from marriage to marriage, so you need to take time to discuss all your options with your spouse. If you are in a marriage on the brink of separation, you may want to keep your filing separate from the marriage, especially if divorce is in the near future.

If you and your partner cannot make a decision together, it would be wise to consult with an attorney or a financial advisor to see what option is best for your bank account and your relationship.